British Energy, the UK nuclear power generator, has formed a joint venture with the UK based wind power development company, Renewable Energy Systems Ltd. The new partnership, named Offshore Wind Power Ltd, is looking to be among the first companies to win government approval later this year for new offshore wind farms and has made an application for its first project, a 30x3MW wind farm, to the Crown Estate, which owns the seabed and controls the process of leasing sites for development.

Environmental campaigner Friends of the Earth has welcomed the move, calling it “a tremendous victory for common sense”. “Renewable energy” a spokesman said, “has enormous potential. It makes economic sense and is the best way to tackle the causes of global warming”. The UK is committed to increase the current 3 per cent energy contribution from renewables to 10 per cent by 2010.

•The Crown Estate says there has been a huge response from developers in the first round of lease applications for offshore wind farm sites. The results are likely to be announced in May. Developers were invited to apply for leases of a maximum 10 km2 for a development of up to 30 turbines on each site, with a minimum site capacity of 20 MW.